Canada, New York, San Francisco
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Usually I don't write about my trips, and now I know why. Bloody, it takes FOREVER! I probably will never again - not after the fact anyway, and not for such a long trip. And they're mostly just excerpts from xanga entries or my travel journal. And I thought I was being concise; this is supposed to be the abbreviated version, with a few snapshots! If you feel I haven't sufficiently barfed all over you computer at this point, feel free to come over and get the unedited version in person, photo albums and all :)
In short, this is what I did this summer:
We drove back to Vancouver with the rest of the gang. When we got into city, the air was distinctly garbag-ier than in the Interior. Sara crashed at my place for the night, and caught an early flight to Sandspit the next morning. We both used our parents' Airmiles to fly up to Sandspit (Queen Charlotte Islands), and down into Castlegar (Nelson) later. I booked too late, and planned to fly out the following day, and meet up with her in Sandspit. I spent the day in Vancouver, madly running around picking up last minute things, finding places to stay, and planning New York with Carol and Eunice. Sara spent the day beachcombing with a quiet girl from China, and spent the night with a fishing family in Sandspit.
July 5: 6:25am, B19 Departure Gate, YVR, Richmond BC.
This is quite possibly the furthest possible departure gate from the entrance... All is well, besides the fact that I'm disgustingly sick.
It was a stunning flight, and a perfectly clear day. As we were landing, out my window I saw clear blue-aqua water, white-yellow stretches of sand, a lush green rainforest, snowcapped mountains behind it all. All in one frame... camera, where were you?! The picture will haunt me for a very long time. The novelty of stepping off a plane, and onto the tarmac, surrounded by nothingness, as opposed to stepping into a giant airport, hasn't worn off yet :)
11:25pm. Room 11, Premier Creek Lodge, Queen Charlotte City BC.
6 degrees of separation: The kids from the family Maud's staying with are in the soccer camp run by the Mexican siblings staying in the hostel here. Because they've booked up the hostel, we got this room with a kitchen for the same price as the hostel! Sweet deal.
Also because the kids were in the camp, Maud had time to spare to explore with us. Hello small town. The woman running the lodge/hostel was silly scatterbrained and kept losing her neighbour's dog. We arrived to this little poodle shitzu, Bobby, crossing the highway, back and forth by itself. We commented to her, how smart the dogs here are, crossing the street by themselves, and she replied, "Oh my god!" and dashed out to fetch the dog. 5 minutes later, it would be in the back, running around with the hen and ducks, and she would be running around the hostel chasing it.
This is view across the street, where we were staying.
This is the the lodge/hostel's backyard.
Today kicked off at 8:30, had oatmeal, then we headed out in our fabulous rental! On the drive to Massett, Tlell, Port Clements.
We met a crazy Acadian francophone in Port Clements, and met 2 ladies who spoke Quebecois French in Massett. Met a man from Surrey who told us about the brothers who died in a plane crash. This started off the string of stories of bad luck I'd be hearing the rest of the day: the white raven that got electrocuted by a telephone wire, the golden spruce getting chopped down by an angry activist/ranger, the longhouse and totem pole getting burned down by a stovetop... Here, below, is the grafted golden spruce they are trying to regrow.
The burned totem and longhouse where I bought rub on tattoos of ravens.
What's a trip to the Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands without a little totem hunting eh...
Respect the damn deer signs and speed limits, people! They are fast! We nearly ran one over. Also, to the rest of North America? Please make note of the handy little hitchhiking bench.
Sara and I may be ovulating at the same time, this means I might be getting my period some time. (I didn't; 8 months and counting...) First, we noticed the cute grocery guy, then yesterday we saw a cute construction guy in Massett. Today, when we went to return the car, Maude and I were like, cute rental guy! Ok, she wouldn't exclaim, "cute!" - well she did, but at deer and babies, not at men. Anyway, cute rental car guy gave us a lift back, we ate some oatmeal, made coffee, and packed fruits, and cheese sandwiches for today's hike. Then we hitchhiked to Skidegate. That's right! We got picked up in about a minute by the third car.
*sidetrack (Sara's doing her journal, reminding me of stuff): We walked beneath a bridge and the cedar had coloured the water and stones all red.
I like totems with bear eating people.
The Skidgate museum was still under construction, and may be home to some ECI students in the future. The tour was informative, but strange with Mariah Carey blasting from the construction site. We hitchhiked back with a fisherman.
Said he was going fishing tomorrow - so if the weather picks up we may have just scored ourselves a free fishing tour! Sweet deal indeed.
credit: Sara-Michele's photo
9:30pm. Its super blustery and wet out, so think we're calling it a night. Watched part of Closer, made a tofu/onion snack, did another load of laundry... I'm sitting here in my cute little room reading 100 Years of Solitude, listening to the pitter patter of the rain, window looking out to the "edge of the world"; this is pretty fantastic.
Running around in my pj shorts in the freezing cold at 2am:
Came back from Maude's place. Goodbye party.
I saw Bobby out from the window and got distracted while brushing my teeth and burned my toast twice. At 10:30am, Lorna got us to move to the hostel in a hurry. Ag! Mess. Then we headed out to hike Sleeping Beauty.
July 11: YVR (stopover) Gate B19. 1 :45pm
Shuttle, ferry, flight. ... Gave Olive my stuff. Bought Vancouver postcards + squid. To Castlegar/Nelson! Ciao!
We had just got off the Greyhound, and started towards our hostel, probably a good 30 minute walk away, and this guy in his old beat up car slows down and he barks out, "You wanna ride?" We look at each other warily, and he goes, "It's okay! It's okay!" Sara and I look at each other kind of amused, well if he says it's okay, we shrugged, and hopped in. I gave the slightly bewildered bystandsters a knowing look, kind of like, remember us, if you read about our freak accidents tomorrow in the paper.
We got to the hostel and met another French guy: Laurent. We made dinner, met Young Shy Quiet guy, and offered him some of our dinner (he was looking rather malnourished).
<paste>: Met another two Canadian francophones at the hostel, (one said Sara and I are opposite but complimentary signs) making our total close to a dozen francophones in BC.
We headed out to a pub after w/ Laurent. YSG (Young Shy Guy) said he was underage - 16! I drank too much. $2! and Laurent just kept going. We headed down to the water to chill (I really had to pee now)
July 12. Room 12, Dancing Bear Inn, Nelson BC.
Laurent find us a ride w/ Graham (London guy in shippin/ports/cruises/etc. business) to go kayaking. ...Crazy British lady/instructor screaming at us: "I said left! Left! Not right! Did you got go school?! No one listens to me!" Oh yes, good times. ... Headed out for pizza and beer at a pub w/ Graham + Laurent.
Graham begins offering his thoughts: I am Sara's guru, I will go into insurance, and I'm a horse person. He tells us about his travels, Laurent says nothing even though he's traveled to equally exotic places. Sara decides she hates Graham.
Back at the hostel, we play "asshole" and VSG joins us, who is less shy now, yay! It's too bad we're all going now... The guys are headed back to Vancouver, then home.
July 13. Having coffee and brunch, and collective poetry and drawing sessions...
"Cheese is cheese, as the small is not. Not is large.
When we time intangible, we calculate emptiness. Kings will birth over deaths. Skies heavy as Queens love gravities.
Oh! Can thou frolick even when cheese is virtual? Cheese will be source sterile.
Where size provokes; mass money translates."
Oh my profoundness! Ye-ah. You should try to read the ones where we alternated languages: French/English, and Chinese/French.
So begins the night on the Greyhound. We chilled in Nelson today - shopped art ( I'm having some pieces getting shipped home, excitement!), bought more apples, etc. Went back to the hostel, ate, chatted w/ lady from Regina about art/cities/etc.
<paste>: we hung out with daniela and dave and daveäs friends bdaz partzthe other night. attractive, articulate, charming, conservative kids. set to run the world. them alberta seperatists. good times. oh but the people weäre stazing with are super super sweet, prettz liberal iäm sure to have strangers staz with them.
July 16: We went to Banff+Lake Louise. Sara lost her camera. We hitchhiked. Hotsprings sucked. We saw Laurent at the Greyhound. Long day 5am-1am. Greyhound smelled like poo.
Greyhound now. Met Dusty + Phil! They have compiled a long list of movies I have to see: Scarface, Team America, Braveheart, Legends of the Fall, Mothman Prophecies, Sleepers, Fight Club, Monsters Ball, C.R.A.Z.Y., Enemy of the Gate, Jacob's Ladder, Monster, Y Tu Mama Te Bien, Wrong Turn, Donnie Rascal, The Score, Usual Suspects, Rounders, Cube, For the Love of the Game, Mermaid, Anastasia, Pulp Fiction, Good Ideas, Reservoir Dogs, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, American Beauty, Lort of War, City of God, Breakfast Club, History of Violence, Romeo and Juliet, Clockwork Orange, Planet of the Apes...
Not compiled by guys at all, haha. He was really sweet...
7:40pm. I hope Dusty found his dad cause I think he got off at the wrong stop...
July 18: We decide not to stay in Regina, chugging along now.
We said bye to Phil as we landed in Winnipeg. He scored a flight out of Winnipeg. Poor guy, otherwise a grueling Calgary-Sudbury (60 hour) trip. He said he would have bought the Discovery Pass and joined us on our trip had he known he would meet such cool chicks on the bus. Smile and nod. He invited us to his hotel to chill, but Sara was eagar to get to Julie's, her friend we're staying with. We saw 'Thumbsuckers' at Julie's that night.
<paste>: a big hello from winnipeg! ... saraès friend works at theatre in the cemetry (the equivalent to TUTS in vancouver) and wère checking it out now, twice! once in french and english.
Chilling by the Forks after the shows...
Today we went to the Salsbury House for lunch - bah! It was ridiculously awful! Took 25 mins for my omelette to come. Food was awful. They forgot my toast. 25 mins later we canceled the toast and Sara's hot choolate. Or we tried to, our server had disappeared at that point. We think maybe she quit because no one could find her.
winnipeg has been tiring. tiring in that everyday is similar; we go see plays and go for beers with the same cast and same pub every day, stay in the same place but mostly because everyone is a francophone. i donèt want people to have to change to english and cater to me, the lone anglophone, but otherwise, i donèt understand a thing.
...we were in shock when we saw the license plates read friendly manitoba.
"-ostie qu'y fait frette/chaud (fuck it's cold/hot)
-ou est-ce que je peux prendre l'autobus? (where can I take the bus?)"
We met this 8 year old girl, Desiree, and her 1 year old sister on the bus. she's so sweet; she drew us pictures, and we played hangman, and she wrote:"I MIGHT 2 NEW BEST FRIENDS. SARA AND JENNIFER."
Thunder Bay ON, described in Lonely Planet as an "unlikely urban mess":
July 23. We said bye to Desiree and her family, and gave her our emails and addresses so she could write us. We decided to get off after 20 hours, and explore a bit. Not much was happening given it was a Sunday… and that it was Sault Ste. Marie. Sara replaced her camera for $150 at the mall, a great deal, but she’s still mourning the loss of her pictures, so it will be a little while before we’re excited about photographing again. A couple at the Tim Horton’s asked if I was from China, when I said I was traveling. Welcome to small town suburbia!
July 24. <paste>: niagara falls was niagara falls.
Canada’s Vegas/Disneyland/etc. (Alec Soth’s Niagara series)
July 27. Met up with Sara in Ottawa. We went to UofO, where Sara hid from physicists. Went to the National Gallery. Stargazing on Sara’s patio, in St. Albert’s, the Kingdom of Cheese.
July 29. Emilie comes over in the morning, to go apartment hunting in Montreal. Sara’s mom’s driving everyone to Montreal. No time for poutine with real curds, sad! Unpack at Karen’s, meet Jason (Bambi) and Rachel (Cornell PhD Prof); her Trekkie roomies. Dinner at Le Commensal �" a fantastic vegetarian buffet.
The following days blur together. It was very much a vacation in the city of indulgence. All that shopping, eating out, and hanging out.
<paste>: endured 35 degree weather, with humidity felt like 45 degrees.
August 6. We leave for Quebec City. We arrive in Ste. Foy to an empty apartment - house squatting time! We came prepared with sleeping bags. We hide our backpacks in the closet in case buyers show up. This is the ‘furnished’ room with a light, tv, and phone. Sara’s calling her mom trying to figure out how to get the water running here…
Met Marc-Antoine, a student/lifeguard from Moncton, who offered Acadian francophone background info, and pointed out good spots to check out, none of which we did cause they all were too expensive or impossible to get to without a car.
We arrive at Pete’s place around midnight, which is hopping with people: his 3 roomies, a couple of extenants who haven’t moved out yet, a few friends, and a traveling band crashing with him for a few days… plus us = full house! We became acquainted with the Grey Water System: <paste>: they've detached something so that the toilet tank doesn't refill automatically, they've removed the pipe below the sink so that it collects in a bucket so you can reuse it for the toilet, shower and bath water stays in the tub so same thing, scoop it up for the toilet, and there's no shower curtain. and the if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down attitude towards the toilet. i think it'd be ok if it were only 3 or so people living there, but with the extenants not moved out yet, and the band; its a bit much.
August 10. Took a shuttle to Cavendish to see the red sand dunes and Anne of Green Gables House, and the writer's grave. sara headed straight for upei, and tried to transfer but then remembered she had free tuition at uofo.
Met a lady from St. John on the bus, who gave me the lowdown on the Maritimes. How backwards and conservative it still is regarding women, schooling, family, work, etc. Aside from the birthday boy from Calgary, his girlfriend and Graham (Brit we met in Nelson), everyone we’ve met has been quite liberal, and anti Bush/Harper. I know we have a slightly skewed perspective, but still…
The guy in Calgary (Alberta Separatist) argued we’re FUNDAMENTALLY different from Americans, which I found difficult to agree with at first, but ... I don’t know.
August 13. Sara goes home to St.Albert’s/Ottawa, and I show up at Karen’s doorstep at 6:30am after an 18+ hour bus ride. Nola, Karen and I shop and eat. (So back in Montreal) We watch Bon Cop Bad Cop, a bilingual Quebecois federalist comedy, hahaha.
I check out a few more galleries, catch up on errands, chill, watch Ali G with her roommates the next couple of days.
Birthday dinner with Sara, Karen and Jason at a Tibetan restaurant.
New York NY
Our bus arrives in New York at 5:30pm, an hour late. I am completely overwhelmed as the Chinese buffet girl hurries me onto the subway. I call Evan, the guy I’m staying with, and wait for him to find me.
I meet a girl from Texas at Starbucks, also overwhelmed and seeking respite. She’s been walking 50+ blocks instead of taking the subway, because it’s too strange for her; she says only the really poor people take the subway at home... She’s sweet, she means well... but wow.
Evan arrives, suit and tie and all. We head for his frat house in Greenwich Village. I meet two of his frat buddies. They remind me of 25th Hour characters, talking shit, and talking stocks - good guys. I'm amused.
August 17. Took the subway a lot. Uptown. Downtown. Evan’s laptop goes missing, ah! :( :( I heart NY tees. Kat and I see Stomp. Evan finds his laptop, yay! :) :)
August 19. Evan takes us up to the rooftop for some pictures. Very reminiscent of last year with Alexx. We wander Broadway. Backpack gets searched. Say goodbye, and key swap with Claudio at Times Square. Meet up with the girls at Regency Inn.
August 21. Chinatown, girls go on illegal purse hunt. Soho. Bryant Park’s Rocky showing. Tres cool. TGIF. Pub/birthday party w/ Evan’s friends. Carol dances with Guinness lover. Meet Nel. Visit Evan’s place with the girls. Hello again Claudio
August 22. Coney Island + roller coaster. Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk. World Trade Centre Site. Empire State Building.
August 23. Got standby Letterman tickets, and made it in! Did Fifth Ave: Tiffany’s, Trump Tower, etc. Saw Beauty and the Beast, Belle was crazy good.
August 24. Did we do Chinatown again today? $1 Chinese food�" fantastic! Saw Mamma Mia. Fun show, but not as impressive vocals as Beauty and the Beast.
August 25. Financial District/Wall St. (teeming with security)/Staten Island Ferry (to see Statue of Liberty on the free), then Guggenhiem (disappointing). Had giant meal for $8.50: pasta, bread, and eggplant lasagna! Eunice is making a mega-scrapbook, ba!
Credit: Anna’s photo
August 27. Shopped. Girls left for the airport. I headed off to Connie’s.
I found myself sitting on a wet chair in Bryant Park, waiting for the rain the let up, waiting for the International Centre of Photography to open, and waiting for Kat to come back from Virginia. Only the Centre is closed, and it’s raining so hard ink is bleeding all over the pages as I wriinge, and Kat won’t be back for another hour or two. So, seeing as it was, or it was supposed to be, the last day of my trip �" I started writing my concluding remarks about the trip till the rain finally let up, and till Kat showed up, and till I could go into the Centre’s gift store at least. Beautiful bathrooms at Bryant Park- really.
As we were about to get on the train to JFK, my mom calls and says I’m going to San Francisco when I get home.
…ride down to San Fran has been fine so far. (Left Vancouver around 2:45pm yesterday) Less than 12 hours to go now. Met a drummer/activist/farmer from Seattle on the way down. He asked a lot of big questions about life, which was a little intimidating, and could have been flaky, but inspiring. We talked a lot about forest farms, and community. Bus arrives early and I meet up with grandma at our very bright, and quaint downtown hotel at 6!
Sausalito, San Francisco CA
Sept 5. …This is fantastic. I’m so relaxed and happy…yesterday I met Austin, a super nice and amazing guy on the Greyhound, coming back from Burning Man (which I have to go to next year!). He was tremendously helpful, and we find ourselves here in Sausalito because of him.
I felt like Austin walked me right through my few days in San Francisco. He pointed me to the perfect spots. He gave me amazing routes, and fantastic destinations. It’s late and I’m running low on adjectives; I’m just alternating between amazing and fantastic. All I want to say is: amazing, amazing, amazing.
Sometime that evening, Vancouver BC. Skytrain home.